Q&A with Damon Oppenheimer

With the official signing deadline passed for the 2007 MLB Draft, PinstripesPlus checks in with Yankees Vice President of Scouting Damon Oppenheimer for a Q&A session to talk about their latest signings, to find out the latest on Andrew Brackman, which of the high ceiling pitchers were they closest to signing, what made them pass on Chris Carpenter, and much, much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: How do you feel about all the signings you guys made before the deadline?

Damon Oppenheimer: Obviously we're real excited about the players we're putting into the system. We're really happy with what we got, happy with when we drafted them, and now we're really happy to have gotten them signed and get going in the system.

PinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about the current injury status of Andrew Brackman? Does he need surgery and if so, that had no bearing on where you selected him or how much you signed him for?

Oppenheimer: Yeah it's still up in the air. Whether that's going to happen [surgery] or not going to happen, we'll probably know more real soon. He was getting his physical in Birmingham with Dr. Andrews. We'll make a decision after that. It's my job to put the best possible talent I can into the system. This guy coming back, when he comes back fully healthy or whatever, or however it works out, he's going to be a top-notch talent. That's what it's all about.

PinstripesPlus: If Brackman does need surgery, signing him to a big league deal and having to put him on the 40-man roster wasn't a deterrent in any way? Was his basketball background and any potential NBA aspirations in your minds when negotiating this deal?

Oppenheimer: Obviously we didn't know taking him that we were going to have to do a big league deal, but like I said before we've got to put talented players into the system. If that's what it takes, then that's what we have to do to get a guy of this talent. No, when he decided to put basketball aside to play just baseball, that made me believe the guy wanted to be a baseball player.

PinstripesPlus: Now that you've got these guys signed later than normal, will these latest signees play this season?

Oppenheimer: That's up to Mark Newman and the guys in player development. They can, they're all '07 contracts, so they can play this year. I would assume some of them are going to get at-bats and get to play. I would probably think [Suttle] will get his feet wet down here in the Gulf Coast League, because these guys haven't played yet. They haven't played baseball games for a couple of months. They need to get in baseball shape and play and do some things. Those guys have a plan for each one of these kids in player development, it's a great plan. I would assume Bradley [Suttle] is the most logical choice to play a little bit, then in the Instructional League, and then go to Hawaii [Hawaiian Winter League].

PinstripesPlus: Of the Daniel Mahoney, Chris Carpenter, Greg Peavey, Drew Storen, and Greg Holle group, which player were you closest to signing?

Oppenheimer: Mahoney was the guy. He was probably the guy who had the most reasonable bonus that he was looking for, but it still didn't equate to the way he pitched and quite what we thought he was worth.

PinstripesPlus: The one guy the fans keep going to as a guy they would have liked to have seen signed was Carpenter. What was the reason for passing on signing him?

Oppenheimer: We took Carpenter because we needed to see if he could pitch and stay healthy, and he wasn't able to that all year this year at Kent State. So we took him with the idea of we'll watch him this summer, if he can prove to us he can take the ball every time out and stay healthy, then maybe we could make a run at him. That went down to wayside in his second or third start in the Cape [Cod League]. He wasn't able to throw again so we couldn't do anything with him. He's had two surgeries, I don't know the extent of them, and I'm not saying he's going to have [another] one, but the way it looks doesn't look very promising.

PinstripesPlus: Obviously two of the young high school pitchers the fans would have liked to have seen signed were Peavey and Storen. What can you tell us about their situations?

Oppenheimer: With Greg Peavey and Drew Storen, with both of them, we knew that their demands going into the draft were going to be around seven figures. We took them seeing if that would match up with the way they pitched this summer. They pitched well, but just not to equate to their expectations of the signing bonus. So we had to let both of them go on to college, regrettably. You'd like to have signed them, but at some point, I've got some fiscal responsibility too. We can't sign everybody, it just doesn't work that way.

PinstripesPlus: What about Greg Holle? Some scouts we talked to outside the organization thought perhaps he wasn't ready for the pros right now. Would you agree?

Oppenheimer: He was a summer draft-and-follow to see if it comes on. He's a guy from the northeast. Some of those guys get better during the summer because they thaw out a little bit and Greg's a quality guy, but it just didn't match up. His stuff never got really good and it just didn't happen for him over the summer where we could think he was worth buying right now.

PinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about Steven Strausbaugh, one of the later round picks you signed late?

Oppenheimer: We signed Steven after playing real well early in the Cape and we're going to convert him to a catcher. He's got a great arm, he's got great makeup, wants to do this, and really wanted to sign. He wants to start with pro ball and he has demonstrated he can swing the bat and he's got a little pop. It's worth taking the chance on the guy and kind of reminds us a little bit of Kyle Anson. We converted Kyle. Kyle is a little bit different because he was probably a little further along in plate discipline and some things like that, and that's what we're hoping, that he [Strausbaugh] takes off like Kyle has.

PinstripesPlus: Danny Cox is another guy you signed late. What can you tell us about him and do you see him sticking at shortstop?

Oppenheimer: He's a left-handed hitting middle infielder and that's pretty good. He swung the bat in Alaska. We went there, Jeff Patterson saw him. He wanted to sign and get going, so he was attractive to us to put a guy like that in the system. He's a solid defender, he swings the bat from the left side and we feel fortunate about that. I'm not calling him a full-time shortstop, but I'm not saying he can't stay there either. Short, second, he's starting off in the middle of the diamond, so that's pretty good.

PinstripesPlus: Luke Murton was a draft eligible sophomore with some family big league pedigree. Was signing him a real possibility this year?

Oppeheimer: Luke didn't have a great sophomore year at Georgia Tech. We took him with the idea that he goes to Cape Cod, we'll watch him, hopefully he performs up there and gets it turned around, and it just didn't happen. He didn't have a good enough year to go in and sign him, and give him what they were probably expecting. It's not a bad thing for him to go back to Georgia Tech.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: How do you feel about all the signings you guys made before the deadline?
\r\n
\r\nDamon Oppenheimer: Obviously we're real excited about the players we're putting into the system. We're really happy with what we got, happy with when we drafted them, and now we're really happy to have gotten them signed and get going in the system.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about the current injury status of Andrew Brackman? Does he need surgery and if so, that had no bearing on where you selected him or how much you signed him for?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Yeah it's still up in the air. Whether that's going to happen [surgery] or not going to happen, we'll probably know more real soon. He was getting his physical in Birmingham with Dr. Andrews. We'll make a decision after that. It's my job to put the best possible talent I can into the system. This guy coming back, when he comes back fully healthy or whatever, or however it works out, he's going to be a top-notch talent. That's what it's all about.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: If Brackman does need surgery, signing him to a big league deal and having to put him on the 40-man roster wasn't a deterrent in any way? Was his basketball background and any potential NBA aspirations in your minds when negotiating this deal?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Obviously we didn't know taking him that we were going to have to do a big league deal, but like I said before we've got to put talented players into the system. If that's what it takes, then that's what we have to do to get a guy of this talent. No, when he decided to put basketball aside to play just baseball, that made me believe the guy wanted to be a baseball player.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Now that you've got these guys signed later than normal, will these latest signees play this season?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: That's up to Mark Newman and the guys in player development. They can, they're all '07 contracts, so they can play this year. I would assume some of them are going to get at-bats and get to play. I would probably think [Suttle] will get his feet wet down here in the Gulf Coast League, because these guys haven't played yet. They haven't played baseball games for a couple of months. They need to get in baseball shape and play and do some things. Those guys have a plan for each one of these kids in player development, it's a great plan. I would assume Bradley [Suttle] is the most logical choice to play a little bit, then in the Instructional League, and then go to Hawaii [Hawaiian Winter League].
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Of the Daniel Mahoney, Chris Carpenter, Greg Peavey, Drew Storen, and Greg Holle group, which player were you closest to signing?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Mahoney was the guy. He was probably the guy who had the most reasonable bonus that he was looking for, but it still didn't equate to the way he pitched and quite what we thought he was worth.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: The one guy the fans keep going to as a guy they would have liked to have seen signed was Carpenter. What was the reason for passing on signing him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: We took Carpenter because we needed to see if he could pitch and stay healthy, and he wasn't able to that all year this year at Kent State. So we took him with the idea of we'll watch him this summer, if he can prove to us he can take the ball every time out and stay healthy, then maybe we could make a run at him. That went down to wayside in his second or third start in the Cape [Cod League]. He wasn't able to throw again so we couldn't do anything with him. He's had two surgeries, I don't know the extent of them, and I'm not saying he's going to have [another] one, but the way it looks doesn't look very promising.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Obviously two of the young high school pitchers the fans would have liked to have seen signed were Peavey and Storen. What can you tell us about their situations?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: With Greg Peavey and Drew Storen, with both of them, we knew that their demands going into the draft were going to be around seven figures. We took them seeing if that would match up with the way they pitched this summer. They pitched well, but just not to equate to their expectations of the signing bonus. So we had to let both of them go on to college, regrettably. You'd like to have signed them, but at some point, I've got some fiscal responsibility too. We can't sign everybody, it just doesn't work that way.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What about Greg Holle? Some scouts we talked to outside the organization thought perhaps he wasn't ready for the pros right now. Would you agree?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: He was a summer draft-and-follow to see if it comes on. He's a guy from the northeast. Some of those guys get better during the summer because they thaw out a little bit and Greg's a quality guy, but it just didn't match up. His stuff never got really good and it just didn't happen for him over the summer where we could think he was worth buying right now.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about Steven Strausbaugh, one of the later round picks you signed late?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: We signed Steven after playing real well early in the Cape and we're going to convert him to a catcher. He's got a great arm, he's got great makeup, wants to do this, and really wanted to sign. He wants to start with pro ball and he has demonstrated he can swing the bat and he's got a little pop. It's worth taking the chance on the guy and kind of reminds us a little bit of Kyle Anson. We converted Kyle. Kyle is a little bit different because he was probably a little further along in plate discipline and some things like that, and that's what we're hoping, that he [Strausbaugh] takes off like Kyle has.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Danny Cox is another guy you signed late. What can you tell us about him and do you see him sticking at shortstop?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: He's a left-handed hitting middle infielder and that's pretty good. He swung the bat in Alaska. We went there, Jeff Patterson saw him. He wanted to sign and get going, so he was attractive to us to put a guy like that in the system. He's a solid defender, he swings the bat from the left side and we feel fortunate about that. I'm not calling him a full-time shortstop, but I'm not saying he can't stay there either. Short, second, he's starting off in the middle of the diamond, so that's pretty good.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Luke Murton was a draft eligible sophomore with some family big league pedigree. Was signing him a real possibility this year?
\r\n
\r\nOppeheimer: Luke didn't have a great sophomore year at Georgia Tech. We took him with the idea that he goes to Cape Cod, we'll watch him, hopefully he performs up there and gets it turned around, and it just didn't happen. He didn't have a good enough year to go in and sign him, and give him what they were probably expecting. It's not a bad thing for him to go back to Georgia Tech.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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